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Monstera spp. (mon-STER-a)
Swiss-cheese plant, split-leaf philodendron, ceriman, Mexican
bread-fruit, window leaf
Monsteras are known for their glossy, oversized green leaves
with the distinctive, deeply cut lobes at their edges or holes
that resemble swiss cheese (thus
the common name swiss-cheese plant). The most common indoor
variety is Monstera deliciosa, which sometimes is sold
mistakenly as Philodendron pertusum. Its
leaves can reach lengths of a foot or more. Indoors, plants can
grow 6 to 8 feet over about seven years. Strong support is
needed to grow a tall plant.
With proper care, these plants can live indoors for years.
Monsteras are available year-round.
IN-STORE AND CONSUMER CARE
LIGHT Average indoor light
is appropriate. Keep the plants out of direct sun. Small leaves
and spindly stalks are a sign the plant isn’t getting enough
light, and it can stop growing altogether in too-dark
WATER In spring through
fall, water thoroughly and allow the soil to dry slightly
between waterings. Water less frequently in winter.
TEMPERATURE Average warm
indoor temperatures are appropriate; avoid temperatures below 55
F. For active growth, temperatures above 65 F are required.
humidity In heated home environments, misting the leaves can be
FERTILIZER Feed every two
weeks with a balanced houseplant fertilizer in spring and
summer. Cut back to monthly feedings in fall and winter.
PROPOGATION Monsteras can be
propagated through stem cuttings (select a location just below
an aerial root), or air layering will create new roots ready for
PESTS AND PROBLEMS Watch for
mealybugs, which can be removed with tweezers or a cotton swab
dipped in alcohol, and spider mites, which can be sponged off
with soapy water. Regular leaf cleaning and an adequately humid
environment help prevent these problems.
LEAVES WITHOUT PERFORATIONS
Young plants often have solid leaves with no “windows” or lobes.
On older plants, leaves’ failure to develop these perforations
means more light and fertilizer are needed.
AERIAL ROOTS Most Monsteras
are epiphytes, which grow on other plants and elevated supports,
gathering water and nutrients through their root coverings.
Aerial roots develop on Monstera stalks, and those close to the
soil should be pushed into the compost; others should be trained
around the support the plant
is growing on.
Underwatering or too-dry air are the likely causes.
YELLOWED LEAVES Overwatering
is the likely cause if many leaves are involved and if signs of
wilting and rotting are present. If not, yellowed leaves may be
a sign the plant needs more fertilizer.
FAMILY Monsteras are members
of the Araceae (Arum) family. Relatives include Philo-dendrons,
callas, Anthuriums and pothoses.
WHAT'S IN A NAME The genus
name comes from the Latin “monstrum,” which means “marvel” or
“monster,” possibly referring to the size and shape of the
The species name “deliciosa” likely refers to the edible fruits
these plants produce in the wild.
HOME SWEET HOME The plants
are native to Mexico, Central and South America, and the West
THIS "CHEESE" ISN'T EDIBLE
Monsteras contain a poisonous sap that if ingested can cause
mouth and throat pain and shouldn’t be allowed to come in
with your eyes or other mucous membranes. Keep the plants out of
reach of small children and pets, and wash your hands if you
have come in contact with sap
through injured leaves.
Some information provided by:
Botanica, by R.G. Turner Jr. and Ernie Wasson
The Chain of Life Network®,
The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual, by Barbara Pleasant
The House Plant Expert, by Dr. D.G. Hessayon
The Houseplant Encyclopedia, by Ingrid Jantra and Ursula Krüger
Photos courtesy of The John Henry Company
You may reach Foliage Plant of the Month writer Amy Bauer by
email@example.com or by phone at (800)
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